Tuesday, March 17, 2009

The Immortal Damon Jones

I say this with the obvious understanding that I have spent exactly zero minutes in the actual immediate presence of the Milwaukee Bucks this year. I can only decipher their moods and manners based on what I see on the 94 x 50 foot platform I see on Fourth and State.

But from what I see...

Damon Jones is the best teammate in the world.

He is like Mark Madsen crossed with Chris Rock. A comedian who can wave a towel with the pros. Jones sprints off the bench during timeouts to cheer on and congratulate his guys. He never complains about his role (which is non-existent). He works the officials before, after and during games, all so his guys get the benefits of a call or two. Most importantly, Jones is hilarious. Next time you attend a Bucks game keep an eye on him from the moment he steps foot on the floor.

He knows he’s the coolest and funniest guy out there. He doesn’t wonder if someone he’s approaching wants to talk to them, he knows they want to talk to him. Whether they do or not. Maybe that’s just the kind of thing that happens when you’ve been on every team in the league. Regardless I’m just glad he is here now.

Jones is like the guy at the Y who everyone else calls Unc. He’s old, he can’t guard anyone on the court, and he shoots all the time, but you love him for all those things. He seems like he has all kinds of little drops of knowledge that he is constantly passing down to the younger guys. If he gained 50 lbs and showed up at the Y tomorrow and starting knocking down threes from the top and talking trash I wouldn’t bat an eyelash.

This is exactly the type of guy you need on the end of the bench. Someone to keep the guys loose and involved in the game. When Richard Jefferson caught the jump ball and made a beeline to the hoop against the Hornets, only to be rejected by the rim, I saw Jones in the background looking like he had to hold back the Bucks bench before he led them in an explosion. Not one person in the arena was as excited as Damon about the possibility of that lay-up going in.

What’s even better about Jones is that he has played on the same team as 95% of the players in the league. He’s always jabbering to guys on the court and not just Bucks. He knows exactly what to say to guys to get them riled or off their game. Isn’t that the kind of guy all of us like to have on our side?

I haven’t even mentioned the outfits. Oh my the bow ties. Between Jones and Andrew Bogut the Bucks have two individuals with unique styles. But those are the kinds of things that bring a team together. With the margin of error being as slim as it is for the Bucks even the smallest of things are crucial to their playoff hopes. If the Bucks had an Isaiah Rider (I could have said Marbury but everyone has beaten up on him so much this year, let’s bring back the original O.G.) type guy on the end of the bench stirring up trouble would they have any shot? Probably not.

Time and time again chemistry has proven critical to a team’s success. Important as it may be, it’s often overlooked. Perhaps that is why the Bucks and Jones took so long to come together this year. Jones had previously been seen by some as a prima-donna. His reputation took a hit a few years back when he refused to enter a game in garbage time. If I had to guess I’d say the Bucks wanted to take some time to make sure he was in the right frame of mind and understood what his role would be. The Bucks probably originally saw him as merely a salary cap throw in to be left at home, a Jamal Tinsley in Indiana only without the mutual hatred.

Now Jones sprints to the scorers table and hoists threes to his heart’s content when he enters. Whether they go in or not doesn’t really matter. Jones already made his contributions for the day, and that was long before he ever left the bench.

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